Paleo Applesauce-Spice Muffins

Why This Recipe Works

Building on the success of our Blueberry Muffins, we decided to create a second muffin with a different flavor profile. We chose apple, hoping that we could use unsweetened applesauce as our liquid and replace the blueberries with juicy chunks of apple. In an initial test, we found that applesauce worked well: It provided the right amount of moisture as well as some flavor and sweetness. But the chunks of apple produced too much steam as they baked, and turned the interior of the muffins gummy. Instead, we turned to raisins, which didn’t add any moisture but provided pleasant bursts of sweetness in the finished muffins. Next, we turned our focus to leavening agents. In our Blueberry Muffins, we used cream of tartar, which is acidic, to activate the baking soda, and found that this strategy worked perfectly in these muffins as well. To get the sweetness of our muffins just right, we tested honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, a natural sugar made from the sap of the coconut plant. Although honey gave the muffins a beautiful golden color, tasters found the flavor overpowering. Maple syrup tasted better, but muffins made with it didn’t brown at all, leaving us with pale, unattractive muffins. In the end, coconut sugar gave the muffins just the right amount of sweetness as well as nicely browned exteriors.


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1 ⅓ cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup (4 ounces) arrowroot flour
3 large eggs
cup (1 2/3 ounces) coconut sugar
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups (9 ounces) almond flour
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup raisins
cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

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Makes 12 muffins

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip applesauce, arrowroot flour, eggs, sugar, melted coconut oil, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Let mixture rest in mixer bowl for 30 minutes.

3. Whisk almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cream of tartar together in bowl. With mixer set to low speed, add flour mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip batter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Using rubber spatula, fold in raisins.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (cups will be filled to top) and sprinkle with pecans, if using. Bake until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

5. Let muffins cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. (Muffins are best eaten warm on day they are made, but they can be cooled and immediately transferred to zipper-lock bag and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. To serve, warm in 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. Muffins can also be wrapped individually in plastic wrap, transferred to zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 3 weeks. To serve, remove plastic and microwave muffin for 20 to 30 seconds, then warm in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.)